South Carolina

Fripp Island tourists find $600K of cocaine on beach, haul it back to vacation home, report says

A family visiting Fripp Island was on a moonlit stroll Sunday when they stumbled onto 20 kilos of cocaine floating in the surf, a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office police report says.

The family told police they fished a large black object out of the water and, not yet knowing it was cocaine, placed it onto their golf cart.

After hauling the object to their vacation home, they ripped into the trash bag, untangled one of 20 bricks loose and plunged a knife into it, the police report says.

They decided to contact police after the knife revealed a white powdery substance.

A kilo of cocaine is valued at about $30,000, said Maj. Bob Bromage. The cocaine found Sunday night would total about $600,000, according to that estimate. “This is a major weight of cocaine,” Bromage said.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the origins of the cocaine, Bromage said Monday.

“Hurricane Dorian may have hastened its arrival,” he said.

In Florida, about 15 kilos of cocaine stuffed in a duffle bag washed up on Cocoa Beach, and a single brick of cocaine washed up on a beach in Melbourne after Hurricane Dorian last month, according to Florida Today.

Bromage said it is an infrequent occurrence in Beaufort County, happening a handful of times in the past three decades.

Beaufort County was a hotbed for drug smugglers in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, leading to a large-scale federal investigation known as Operation Jackpot.

More than 100 people were convicted as a result of the investigation.

According to a story in the April 9, 1980, Beaufort Gazette, Clark Settles, chief of the Charleston District Customs Patrol, said, “About 5 percent of marijuana imported into the U.S. may be funneled within a 30-mile radius of Beaufort.”

Among the times police found large quantities of marijuana in Beaufort County:

  • October 1978: 250 bales of marijuana confiscated from a ship.
  • January 1979: hundreds of bales of marijuana found in a trawler abandoned in Port Royal sound

  • January 1979: 50 bales of marijuana float to land on Hilton Head from shrimp boat that broke up in high seas.
  • August 1979: hundreds of bales of marijuana found in a trawler found off St. Helena Sound.
  • April 1980: Colombian marijuana seized from a plane that landed in Moss Creek Plantation
  • February 1981: 5,000 pounds of marijuana seized from truck stopped on US 21
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